The first thing anyone says about YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story (also known as Totono or Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi) is to play it blind. After playing it through, I completely agree. As such, be warned that while I am always careful about spoilers, this review will purposely be vague in some ways to respect this.
YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story is a visual novel by developer Nitroplus and published by JAST USA. Visual novel fans may know the name Nitroplus from their work on Steins;Gate and Song of Saya amongst others. They have a reputation for quality in the visual novels which have made it to the English-speaking world.
This is an 18+ game with multiple sex scenes and other objectionable content in the JAST version, which I am currently playing. The Steam version requires a patch to restore this. I would highly recommend playing this uncensored for the full impact of certain scenes. The content in question is uncensored without mosaic and includes some mild and moderate fetish content, including cosplay and anal sex. There are some scenes catering to more specific fetishes which may not be appreciated by some, but to mention these would be story spoilers – just know that it may not be to everyone’s taste.
As noted, I will be purposely vague here, but I will say this; YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story is not a sweet and light romance story like many other visual novels I have reviewed. It might seem it at times, but there is certainly a dark side hidden beneath the cover. In many ways, this is a story about choice, about possibilities and about eternal love.
The story opens as you enter the roof – a restricted area for most, but one that many desire to go to. A legend exists about this roof – that if two people share a kiss there, their love will be eternal. This is where you meet two girls.
Aoi is in your class, but you have never really spoken to her before. She’s known to be a spacecase – not entirely there mentally. She believes that she is a visual novel heroine, the world is a video game and that she is in contact with the God of the world. She decides to try and kiss Shinichi, the protagonist.
Miyuki soon appears. She claims to be your girlfriend in front of Aoi, but is actually your childhood friend who you have drifted apart from and now only see from across the classroom. She initially thought that you called her up to the roof due to the legend, but it turns out to be a misunderstanding.
This can be blamed on your friend Yuutarou. Captain of the ‘Boys and Dreams Club’ and source of comedy. While not the focus, he makes frequent appearances as he chases his dreams.
Through a series of events, Aoi, Miyuki, and yourself become friends. It is not a smooth journey, but you spend time with them at school and in the town. You make a rather unlikely group with Aoi the class nut, Miyuki the talented and popular queen of the class and yourself, the plain and forgettable Shinichi.
As time goes on, relationships become quite complicated. Aoi learns more about human relationships and the bonds between Shinichi and Miyuki grow. A certain event happens and then everything starts a slow spiral out of control.
There is quite a lot of drama in how things unfold and it is certainly not a standard romance story. Rather unexpected events happen and the girls themselves are certainly not the standard visual novel heroines. The game is full of twists after completing the initial part and I would expect anyone to be surprised at how it turns out.
While I am being very careful to avoid spoilers here, I will say that this is a game that needs to be played several times. It involves some repetition and the skip button can be liberally used during parts of it, but things will change.
I thought the story was incredibly unique. It feels in a way that it shifts genres partway through, but the transition is so smooth that you can’t tell until a certain point. The characters themselves and how they react with the circumstances of the story are particularly interesting and I was impressed with how it sometimes created unsettling or disturbing feelings while playing. I’m not personally a fan of certain niche fetishes that appear in the story, but that actually worked to make that part of the story more powerful.
You can reach a true ending in YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story. It is not a case of just taking the Aoi ending or Miyuki ending as many visual novels include. The focus is more on the story than ending up with one of the girls. To actually access the true end requires solving a puzzle, which I felt was an odd choice. It actually may cut some people off from completing it, as it isn’t obvious.
The writing was well done. It made good use of comedy when it needed to lighten the mood and was gripping the entire way through. It dropped in hints and foreshadowing in such a way that I, the reader could understand what would happen, but it was believable that the protagonist would not. The editing was of high quality too. I did notice one small error with text overrunning a box, but with about ten hours of reading, one error notice is minor.
Graphics, Sound, and Options
The artwork was high quality overall and there were approximately 80 CGs, not including variations. I particularly liked the style of the art, which felt closer to something drawn for a yuri game in some ways, rather than a more typical visual novel.
The music was great with a good variety of 30 tracks, which were well used to set the mood the scenes were trying to create. I enjoyed the voicing too. I thought that Yuutarou’s voice actor did particularly well with the amount of energy shown and Aoi’s really helped get her character across with a halting, almost robotic at times voice.
The options are fairly robust, with options surrounding voices, font, dialogue, and more.
I would highly recommend YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story to visual novel fans who play visual novels for the story, more than romancing the heroines. I would also suggest that it is not suitable as a beginner’s visual novel but would be more appreciated by someone familiar with the genre.
In several ways, this was not my style of a visual novel. Despite this, I rate it very highly. YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story is a story that I feel visual novel fans should experience and many will appreciate, even if it means stepping outside of their comfort zone.
YOU AND ME AND HER: A LOVE STORY IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Additional You, Me and Her goods can be found on JList.com, including this wallscroll.
Many thanks go to the publisher JASTUSA for a PC review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.